ramblings, rants & reflections

what is dark in me :: illumine ::

heartwarming tale

my parents always encouraged me to be creative and to create. my mother would tape down a strip of wax paper on the breakfast bar, set out some markers and crayons, and leave me to dream up pictures and words to fill the blankness in front of me. other days, i would ask to have stories read to me repeatedly. i would memorize the story and when to turn the page to trick people into thinking i could read the words myself. 

when i was finally able to draw and read well, the next logical step was writing and illustrating my own stories. most were basically rip offs of well-known tales, like the frog prince or singing mermaids. sometimes though, creative genius would descend into my 6 year old mind and direct my hands to dictate plot-driven tales of unexpected turns and riveting emotion.

for example: 

the previously unpublished handwritten and illustrated “the story of charisse the spider.” (note: author’s erasures indicate that charisse was a “mudpie” in earlier drafts.)

illustrations ended.

the last page is a colored illustration, possibly inspired by a book’s dust jacket observed in childhood.

aside from the blatant grammatical errors from lack of a formal education (in the year 1991), the story is clear, concise, and ends as happily as circumstances allowed.

i don’t question that i was a special child. but i do wonder how my adulthood was decided based on my early preclusions to imagine such drama and palliative resolutions in print form. perhaps if i had feigned interest in watching rubber balls ricochet off my bedroom’s plaster walls, i would have discovered different ways to express my inner thoughts that were more conducive to socially-acceptable adult interactions: such as indoor soccer or running teams — and not blogging from a mobile phone on a saturday afternoon.

in any case, i have arrived at this self, however calculated and calculating. how have you augmented your childhood preferences in your adult proclivities today?



amazon rawr

I cried on my couch over a television commercial.

Maybe I was moved by a little Asian baby. Or by a loyal dog’s lonely gaze. Or because I still believe in humanity’s ability to think creatively to solve problems. Or because I just love Amazon Prime that much.

In case you need to just cry it out, here’s the tearjerker:

Now excuse me while I need to buy something from my Amazon Prime app after I wipe away a few more new tears after watching it again.

the vow

dear reader(s),

the struggle to write is real. it’s not that I lack topics, time, or motivation… but I do question the validity of a captive online audience. there was a time when I could write for myself in a diary with lined pages and a fake gold lock. there was a time when I could write quickly, and somehow quite academically, for a class. but lately, writing has felt like a show, like I put on my best vocab and elevated syntax so that you’ll have a glorious blog reading experience before scrolling to your feed’s next post.

but I also believe that my sole purpose for writing is not just for the glamour of properly punctuating with semi-colons. my ideal reader is not a superficial skimmer of pages.

I write to you to share my experiences in hopes that you will reflect on your beliefs and life story. maybe my goal is entwined with conceit — that my ideas here are even worth further thought. but isn’t that the core of all social media… that our private lives are worth public attention? that our lunch is pretty enough to become an Instagram-macro-shot-hashtag-noms? that our morning commute’s traffic delay sums up our view on humanity? that the red patent pumps we didn’t have the money to buy deserve permanence on a virtual wall with a caption that includes a sad face emoticon? we are empowered with the ability to document the grand — and also the mundane.

I am the journalist and photographer of my life. with that responsibility, I am also the editor. perhaps I am a better editor than I am creator lately. this post serves as a sort of contract between you and me, and I want to be held accountable for not/sharing the meaning I find in daily activities. I believe that small-minded people sit around and talk about other people; bigger minds talk about ideas.

and I have so many to share with you.

if you’ll keep reading.



February 4, 2015 was a big day for me: I got an amazing bed tan, interviewed for my current job, and met Jonathan downtown for our official first date at the Matador. I love their carne asada tacos and I really love that they are only $5/2 tacos during late night happy hour.

Not only did the above day set in motion some pretty big life changes for me, but February 4, 2015 also serves as a glaring reminder that things are happening all around us that set future plans in motion. My younger brother got married in January 2015 — and his wedding was the only event I had listed on my 2015 calendar. On the plane ride home, I asked myself, “So now what. Everything that matters this year has happened. What am I going to do for the next 348 days.” On January 18, I did not know that I would soon receive a phone call from my good friend and colleague suggesting I consider changing my workplace. And I definitely didn’t know that I would be asking that same colleague to be my wedding photographer just 4 months later.

As you have read in recent posts, my relationship with life (with both enduring mine and with the general term “living”) is complicated. But let me assure you that February 4, 2015 proffered a series of events that rendered my January 2015 life plan unrecognizable.

February 4, 2016 celebrated my first first-date anniversary with Jonathan at the Matador in The Village. Because now I hang out at places that offer free parking and I really need to be in bed sooner than 1 AM.

For reasons yet to be determined, the universe has bestowed a love I will never deserve on my semi-unwilling self. Jonathan is the song in my heart that I find myself humming without having heard the lyrics; and he smells like home.


sticky note

lately, I’ve been surrounded by two extremes: those suffering from the god-complex and those hell-bent on underachieving. both types require attention, shitty situations, and are fueled with negative energy. perhaps you’ve also encountered the “i am so amazing/ this place would fall apart without me/ express your inadequate gratitude by permitting me to do absolutely nothing because work is for peasants” attitude. and maybe you’ve been unfortunate enough to also engage with the “meh/ typos galore/ i woke up like dis” asshole who can’t be bothered with a courtesy toilet flush in the shared workplace bathroom. as my blood pressure and heart palpitations will attest, i am steadily growing weary of my surroundings.

I’ve been playing bachelorette for a few weeks now with jon working out of state and have relished the solitude and opportunity for reflection. however, old habits die hard, and I find myself in one of three places: work, gym, or bed — in one of two moods: murderous or ready to die.

I recognize the darkness within my mind and struggle daily to find balance between bleak reality and hopeful living. perhaps my husband’s presence encourages me to be a softer soul and to utter kinder words. his love deserves a grateful heart; i am lucky to have his light fighting for goodness in my black, stone-cold universe.

in closing, i will leave you with one of my favorite comic strips, “pearls before swine.” consider thanking the people in your life who give you a hug after you scream “i hate everything” after you walk in the front door. we can’t live in extremes: the whole world doesn’t suck… just the majority of it and its inhabitants.


highlights of 2015

welcome to 2016, dear readers. starting a new calendar year feels so momentous, a literal turning of the page to clean days to fill with memories, feelings, experiences, and expectations. but reality reminds us that we carry our pasts with us, on our faces, with each touch, and deep inside our hearts; we are hardly “new” as we confront the next year.

we are accumulations of our pasts, our current state, and our tangled hopes for what will be. what makes us human is our ability to reflect on what’s happened and self-determine a projectable future. what also makes us human is our ability to destroy or attain our dreams. here’s to wishing you a constructive year and hoping you’ll take the time to celebrate specific victories and share with me along the way.

i urge you to record (in your medium of choice: a diary, social media, a photo journal) your memories this year. we will remember the big events and how they made us feel, but there are so many little moments — very definitive, localized scenes of your life– that will disappear forever unless you preserve them. for me, taking a photo of mundane, everyday life helps secure those instants; i am working on shifting back to writing to further exploit those junctures in time. i challenge you to collect your memories in 2016 starting right now.

to close, here are some of my favorite photos from 2015. all of these pictures did not make the cut for social media posts, mostly because they are not aesthetically pleasing and/or seemed all-together too personal. but here, they find a home in this blog post about encapsulating a moment that fits inside a larger narrative of life.


girls don’t sweat; they glisten!


while my selfie skill level falls well above moderate, there is no way around it: that IS sweat after an intense gym session. for most of my life, i believed that skinny = healthy; i still struggle daily with my body image and have made growing physically stronger a lifelong pursuit. my body is reflection of my lifestyle. i hope you see dedication and a work in progress in this picture.


i live in a state of wintery hell aka boise, Idaho.


i love my little city of trees. but i also hate spring in boise because of allergies. i hate summer in boise because i can feel the overly intense sunshine rearranging my skin cells into cancer and the hills become barren, sun-fried acres of fire hazards. i hate fall in boise because it is too short and my allergies return with a debilitating vengeance. and finally i hate winter in boise because snow and ice are disgustingly dangerous, bone-chilling monsters that prove the devil is winning. at least four times a year i vow that i will leave boise and never look back.


in front of the camera.

my friend amy asked me to model to expand her photography portfolio for tree city studios. for me, i chose to accept the challenge to practice manipulating a camera from the other end of the lens. during our session, amy and i tried not to disturb nesting Canada geese, climbed over fences and into dried up marshy swamps for backgrounds, and raced the setting sun to find enough light for the shots. i enjoyed my evening as a model and would love an opportunity to be someone’s subject again.


the meeting place between earth, water, and sky.

standing on the bridge at the mk nature center, you can see fish shadows and various underwater features like rocks and submerged trees. on a sunny, breeze-free day, you can also watch the clouds reflected on the pond water. and on a day like this, you can admire the symbolism of sky above and earth below dancing together on mirror-like water.


all the single ladies.

i used my camera zoom to determine if a goose was standing on one leg in a small quarry in twin falls. i will leave it up to you, dear reader, to create a compelling backstory for the lone foreigner teetering at green water’s edge.


breadloaf rock in horseshoe bend, Idaho.

on may 25, 2015, jon wanted to drive to horseshoe bend to show me the wave park on the river where he claims he is a local “legend.” camera in hand, i snapped pictures as he narrated his past adventures of downhill street luging and observing the awesomeness of a rock that looks like a loaf of bread with a sliced off end piece. as we ascended a hill to find a suitable vantage point for breadloaf rock, a light spring rain started and the cloud cover helped create a muted, almost melancholy feeling to most of pictures i took that day. a few hours after this picture was taken, jon asked me to marry him and then we got cherry ices from burger king.


bathroom selfie is always appropriate, even on my wedding day.

40 days after jon proposed, we got married. a few days before the wedding, i realized that i would not be able to get ready alone while meditating and relaxing in my studio apartment as planned since i needed someone to lace the back of my wedding dress. so, in my parent’s bathroom, i prepared for perhaps the most important photo day ever and then took a selfie — of course. i applied all of my own makeup (skincare and color are all by mary kay) and did my own hair (thank you, pinterest) for what might have been the most low-key “let’s see how this goes” wedding ceremony prep in the history of pre-wedding moments. i was very fortunate that everything came together smoothly (including trying on my lipstick color just a few seconds before this selfie). my “something blue” is a turquoise earring stud that was a Christmas gift from my brother in my right ear. not pictured is my left earring stud which was my paternal grandmother’s fire opal.


always the gentleman.

one of my favorite days of summer 2015 was visiting vale, oregon to photograph the city’s numerous giant murals. the artwork depicts early life along the oregon trail, including important tasks shown here in “the branding” by larry bute. the symbols along the top are actual locals’ cattle brands who donated to the mural project. as i set up my long landscape shot, i noticed a horridly distracting green trash can (stored so nicely in a dumpster container painted to look like a packed wagon), so jon wheeled it out of sight — but not before i could document this moment that proves he really is my partner in crime.


just snapping pictures while running downhill, nbd.

jon and i ran our first 5k together at the Idaho wine run in marsing as one of the state’s (possibly the pacific northwest’s?) biggest wildfires raged on just miles from the winery. spoiler alert: my favorite picture is not the smoke-filled skies.

“i burned those bitches alive,” she said.

nor the fact that i smile demonically (and unknowingly) while running.

“why,” he said.

but really, my favorite picture is jon’s official race photo with “FUN” written all over his face, obviously. with no training prior to the race, jon still beat my by a few solid minutes. so i guess we know who will outlive the other when the zombie apocalypse happens. so thankful to have photographic proof of making my husband suffer.


mastering the couple selfie.

i’m still getting used to jon’s last name. i still don’t feel a part of the “murray” name (and perhaps never will) but as we prepared to visit our families on Christmas day, i finally felt like part of a couple that can actually take car selfies together, albeit slightly blurry and completely cheesy. which is extremely momentous and a deal-breaker.


enjoy your new year, dear readers. thank you for allowing me to share some moments from 2015 that will hopefully prove a solid foundation for a memorable 2016.

oh snap,


on humor

when idahoans glibly remark that californians suck at driving in snow, i am tempted to challenge said idahoan to picnic with me, cross-legged and hatless, on the sultry, sizzling blacktop of solvang, california anytime in july — and then we can talk about things like weather (in)tolerance.

so, the morning of the first big snowfall my husband drove me to work. when i thanked him, he smiled and said, “it’s ok, i know you’re safe.”

i truly don’t deserve his love.

as i was getting out of the car, i realized i had forgotten my cellphone at home. forlorn and dejected, i rhetorically asked what i would do at lunch time without my phone.

jonathan asked, “do you want me to bring your phone for lunch? there’s no nutritional value in it though.”

my husband is many things and he is not many things: but he is definitely punny.

*sidenote: when my phone was returned to me, it had been fully charged. that is love, people.

in four chambers

i am human. my goal is to fill my thoughts, words, and actions with positivity and gratitude. but, tired and restless, my mind is often consumed with unproductive energy. i have been spending some time reflecting on the content and the cause of my thoughts; and i believe that my mind is first triggered by what is in my heart, which serves as a repository for different aspects of my personality and historical documents of my life story.

here are some things that fill my heart, currently:

quiet moments 

 pretty pretty girly girl ready to twirl

missing places ive never been

believer in science aka nerddom on all levels

a great reproach for the dumbassery surrounding me daily

love for my peeps

countless secrets



wannabe photog

great darkness that fuels the bulk of my creativty

baby andrea, who believes in everything bright and beautiful

… in a deadlock with the skeptic who will not let go of the past

queen b

competitive spirit

desire for solitude

asian cinderella — just watch how a pair of shoes changes my whole outlook

obsession with light

propagator of tough love

vanity at its finest


my heart is filled with an assortment of memories and beliefs that filter my conscious thoughts. acknoledging the residents in my valves and atriums allows me to evaluate what belongs with me — and also what needs to move on, marked for the archives and ready to purge.

what is in your heart, reader? 




substitute for pistol & ball

from Chapter 1, “Loomings” of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—  
then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

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